For 11 innings Wednesday, the Belleville West Maroons kept pushing for one more at-bat, one more baserunner and one more opportunity.
It finally came in the top of the 11th as Jacob Wilson's two-out RBI double chased home Matt Klosterman with the eventual winning run as the Maroons stunned top-seeded O'Fallon 2-1 at the Class 4A Belleville West Regional.
"We came in as the underdog and I knew we could do it," said Wilson, the West catcher who also picked a runner off second to remove a big O'Fallon threat in the sixth.
"This is a huge win for Belleville West," Maroons coach Lee Meyer said. "We beat an incredibly good team in O'Fallon. With their record and everybody they play, this is probably the biggest win dating back to '07 when we hit a grand slam to beat them in the sectional."
Belleville West (17-16) was held hitless until the sixth inning by O'Fallon starter Chris Holba, who allowed a leadoff single in the to Ethan Lewis.
With his team trailing 1-0, Lewis scored the tying run from third in the sixth on an RBI groundout by Zach Skaer. That's the way the score stayed until the 11th, when Wilson's double proved to be the game-winning hit.
The loss ended O'Fallon's season at 32-4 as the Panthers, who won the Southwestern Conference championship. lost in the regional semifinal for the second year in a row.
West advanced to the regional championship at 11 a.m. Saturday and will face the winner of Thursday's semifinal game between Belleville East (16-12) and Collinsville (18-15).
In the top of the 11th, West shortstop Matt Klosterman drew a one-out walk against previously unbeaten O'Fallon pitcher Blake Deatherage (11-1). Klosterman scored on a double to the gap in left center by Wilson.
Skaer relieved Belleville West starter Brendan Saak with no outs in the sixth and the game tied 1-1. Saak held O'Fallon scoreless for the next 5 2/3 innings, allowing only three hits.
Skaer left with two outs in the bottom of the 11th after giving up a double to O'Fallon's Hayden Hewitt that gave the Panthers runners at second and third.
West ace Parker Beine came on in relief and struck out Holba for the final out.
"Zach Skaer was just masterful following Brendan Saak, who gave up, what, two hits? This was a great team effort," Meyer said.
O'Fallon had a golden opportunity to end the game in the bottom of the seventh. After issuing an intentional walk to Collin Holton with two outs, Skaer hit Camden Bauer with a pitch to loaded the bases for O'Fallon sophomore Bradley Harrison.
Skaer went to 3-0 in the count, then fought back with two strikes before retiring Harrison on a fly ball to right.
"I was nervous, but we got through it," Skaer said.
"Our kids were just so gutsy today," Meyer said. "Zach Skaer with bases loaded and 3-0, coming back and throwing two strikes and getting him to fly out to right. That was huge (because) one ball ends the game there."
The Maroons also flashed some timely defense, with Saak and Skaer coaxing inning-ending double play balls in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
"I was just feeling really good today and Wilson was doing a great job calling pitches," Skaer said. "He knew everything about the hitters that I didn't know."
O'Fallon had five hits while Belleville West was held to five by Holba and Deatherage. O'Fallon stranded 14 baserunners while West stranded eight.
"It was a game of who was going to break first or who was going to execute first," O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said. "They executed better than us, no doubt. Throughout the entire game it was a matter of somebody breaking through and getting the hit.
"We had a lot of opportunities where we could have gotten a hit to put the game away and we didn't."
Portz credited the West pitchers as well as his own.
"The name of the game is throw strikes and those (West) kids filled the zone up and they made defensive plays when they had to," he said. "That's a testament to their coaches and their program. I tip my cap to Belleville West and I wish them luck."
O'Fallon got its run in the second inning when Deatherage scored from third on a fielder's choice grounder up the middle.
Meyer was ejected from the game in the bottom of the second inning by the home plate umpire. Meyer said it was only the second ejection in 25 years.
He watched the remainder of the game from his maroon SUV parked beyond the left-field fence. Assistant coach Kevin Sangiolo handled coaching duties for the final nine innings.
"It was just a great high school baseball game to be part of -- and I wish I was more a part of it," Meyer said.
After the game, Meyer returned to greet his team and got a round of applause.
"This certainly isn't about me, but I was disgusted," he said.
"I was disgusted with the situation that occurred and I was disgusted with myself for letting that happen."